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Ashe, Thomas Samuel (19 July 1812–04 February 1887), jurist and congressman, was born at “the Hawfields,” Orange County, North Carolina, the home of his maternal grandfather, where his parents regularly spent the summer. He was the son of Pasquale Paoli Ashe, the owner of a plantation in coastal New Hanover County, North Carolina, and a coal mine in Alabama, and Elizabeth Jane Strudwick. His father lost his entire fortune about 1829 as surety for the debts of a friend....

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Judah P. Benjamin. Daguerreotype from the studio of Mathew B. Brady. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-109992).

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Benjamin, Judah Philip (06 August 1811–06 May 1884), Confederate cabinet member, U.S. senator, and lawyer, was born at Christiansted, St. Croix, West Indies, the son of Philip Benjamin, a shopkeeper, and Rebecca de Mendes. St. Croix was under British rule at the time of Benjamin’s birth. He grew up in Charleston, South Carolina. Though his father’s circumstances were always modest, wealthy relatives and other benefactors helped him attend Yale (1825–1827), but he left as a junior under circumstances that remain unclear....

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Campbell, Josiah Adams Patterson (02 March 1830–10 January 1917), jurist and a founding father of the Confederacy, was born in South Carolina (sources vary as to location), the son of Robert B. Campbell, a Princeton-educated Presbyterian minister, and Mary Patterson. A precocious child, he spent some time as a student at Davidson College in North Carolina before joining his parents at their new home in Madison County, Mississippi, in 1845. After reading law in the office of a local attorney for two years, he was admitted to the bar at the age of seventeen and began practicing in Kosciusko in Attala County. In 1850 he married Eugenia E. Nash; they had seven children....

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Cobb, Thomas Reade Rootes (10 April 1823–13 December 1862), lawyer and Confederate congressman and military officer, was born in Jefferson County, Georgia, the son of John Addison Cobb, a planter, and Sarah Robinson Rootes. His older brother, Howell Cobb—congressman, governor, and secretary of the treasury under ...

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Davis, George (01 March 1820–23 February 1896), lawyer, Confederate senator, and Confederate attorney general, was born in New Hanover (now Pender) County, North Carolina, the son of Thomas Frederick Davis, a prominent planter, and Sarah Isabella Eagles. He attended W. H. Harden’s school in Pittsboro, was tutored at home, and at fourteen entered the University of North Carolina, graduating in 1838 at the head of his class. After reading law with his brother in Wilmington, he was admitted to the bar at age twenty and licensed statewide a year later....

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Jefferson Davis. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-92005).

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Davis, Jefferson (03 June 1808?–06 December 1889), president of the Confederate States of America and U.S. senator, was born in Christian (later Todd) County, Kentucky, the tenth and last child of Samuel Emory Davis and Jane Cook, farmers. The year of his birth is uncertain; for many years Davis regarded 1807 as correct, but he later settled upon 1808....

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Gholson, Thomas Saunders (09 December 1808–12 December 1868), jurist and Confederate congressman, was born in Gholsonville, Brunswick County, Virginia, the son of Major William Gholson, a planter, and Mary Saunders. Gholson received his secondary education in Oxford, North Carolina, and then returned to his home state, where he graduated from the University of Virginia in 1827. He practiced law in Brunswick County until 1840, when he moved to Petersburg and formed a partnership with his older brother, James Hubbard Gholson. After his brother’s death in 1848, Gholson practiced with Judge James Alfred Jones of Mecklenburg County. By all accounts, Gholson was a skillful advocate and eloquent orator, and he made a name for himself by taking part in many notable cases, including the famous murder trial of William Dandridge Epes, in which Gholson was the prosecutor....

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Holcombe, James Philemon (20 September 1820–22 August 1873), educator and Confederate official, was born in Powhatan County, Virginia, the son of William James Holcombe, a doctor, and Ann Eliza Clopton. After studying with a private tutor, James enrolled at Yale and later attended the University of Virginia but did not graduate from either school. After studies at the Staunton Law School, he began practicing law in Fincastle, Virginia. In 1844 he left Virginia to join a law firm in Cincinnati, Ohio. While in Cincinnati, he produced an extensive list of publications on legal matters, including ...